It has been hard for me to see the historical outlines of the present-day attack on American democracy clearly. But this morning, as I was reading a piece in Vox by foreign affairs specialist Zack Beauchamp, describing Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s path in Florida as an attempt to follow in the footsteps of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, the penny dropped.
Excellent analysis, particularly the differentiation of the varieties of threat - Trump, deSantis, Abbott.
I continue to have a problem with the identification "Christian". I recognize that Puritans called themselves Christians eventhough they persecuted their own members who lived more independently and Oakers with a different view of Christianity. Even to the point of killing them. I recognize that Confederates called themselves Christians eventhough they promoted slavery and killed slaves, abolitionists and Union soldiers to preserve slavery and their oligarchy. During Jim Crow, they burned crosses and killed those who threatened their oppressive rule. And then today Abbott, Desantis and many Republicans call themselves Christians while they do many unchristian things to other people. When are real Christians going to take the Christian identification away from these Philistines? Real Christians are people of mercy and a blessing for all.
Hard to read this so late at night, but impressive puzzle, making a picture that’s not fun to look at. Thank heavens you have the chops to see/read/work your way through what appears in my reading here, to be ‘correct’ and very troubling for our teetering democracy.
Keep working all the pieces and letting us in on your view. Thank you Heather Cox Richardson. I never understood the value of academic study of history until a friend introduced me to your Letters. Now I feel relieved to read/think about how so many complex pieces create huge understandable pictures of our actual life experience.
Be well dear guide to reality.
I think that too many Americans don't actually know what democracy is and equate it with American capitalism which has been screwing them for decades. They don't care. They're exhausted trying to make a living. They're distrustful of anyone who is in the government. They see ¨the haves¨ in reality television shows and have anger. Many have college degrees and can't get a decent job. Others are in fields that are becoming or have become obsolete. Then there are the religious who have resented for years those who are liberal and believe in Roe v Wade. Throw in the gun goons, and.....
Governor Abbott and the Texas Republican majority legislators were being much more than sly with S.B. 8, the "heartless" anti-abortion law. It was a blatant raise your middle finger challenge to the validity of the US Constitution over state authority. It is also a very broad method, using vigilantes to enforce these unconstitutional laws, which can be used for almost anything. California is working on one for gun control by going around the Second Amendment. Even worse is that the current Supreme Court is letting the Texas law go into effect anticipating future precedent that they are about to eviscerate Roe v. Wade. It all stinks. Texas is now a minority white state by population and an autocracy.
Sad to see Orban's Hungary is not more effectively opposed by the EU, now that he has such a follower; but maybe EU is just moving slow. Poland is scared enough to be handed back to Russia and may be turning back to democracy by itself, I think.
How is it that Tucker Carlson is called a 'personality'? In my understanding of the word his submissive propaganda is devoid of everything associated with a personality.
All historians, pessimists and optimists need to listen to this talk by Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, which blew my mind! Dr. Seligman talks about agency. Agency in psychological terms is a mindset that consists of efficacy, optimism, and imagination. When cultures and epochs believe in individual agency, progress occurs. When they do not, stagnation occurs. It is amazing to map historical periods by the individual and collective agency of each period. This made me look at history in a totally new way. Dr. Seligman believes we are about to enter an age of positive agency spurring tremendous progress!
“his routine is old” (re:Trump)
Trump is performing at a dirt race track in Nebraska tomorrow night. Tonight, a local Fox talking head compared the event to a washed up rock band that used to fill stadiums but now played high school gyms. The few remaining fans just want to hear the old favorite songs: I Was the Winner, Biden is a Disaster, Lock Her Up.
The goal of the event is actually to sell baseball caps and other souvenirs of past glory. Supporting Trump’s choice for the Republican Governor primary election is incidental. Amazing to see such cynical disloyalty to trump on FOX.
I am deeply sad when I think of current treat to our democracy. I feel those who blindly follow this poison, which Heather so eloquently describes, will only understand what democracy really is after we all have lost because of their actions. Or perhaps not… also so sad.
In another lifetime, or perhaps in a parallel universe, I’d be curious to observe the inevitable match among the Trump, deSantis and Abbott followers as they fight it out to their mutual destruction and the triumph of democracy. But I live in this lifetime, in this universe. I take comfort in your analysis, because we cannot defeat a problem unless we know what that problem is. You have defined the three-headed enemy we face and the different philosophy each embraces. Part of our task now is to use the forces of democracy divide and conquer these forces of evil who have gained a foothold on our democracy.
So, Trump & Co. are kleptocrats, Abbott is an old-style states-rights confederate, and deSantis is a "soft fascist", who will likely turn into a hard fascist when he gets the chance (as Orban is in the process of doing). Correctly naming something is a major step in fully understanding it. Full understanding is a means to identify its strengths and weaknesses. This is one reason why Democrats, Independents, moderate Republicans, etc, have done relatively poorly in combating this autocratic threat we all face. We really could not articulate what we are up against. Thank you professor Cox-Richardson, for your spot-on analysis. Thanks to the forum members, for letting me "think out loud" about these issues so I can better understand them. We are not the ones in trouble, it is the neo-autocrats among us that need to worry. Stay strong, stay smart everyone.
Then this afternoon I attended a Zoom meeting by the Lakota Law Project. In South Dakota, the Department of Social Services is literally stealing children away from their parents and arranging for them to be adopted into white families. They are literally erasing the next generation of indigenous people in order to get them out of the way so the whites can exploit the land. The Supreme Court is hearing a lawsuit about the state's egregious violation the Indigenous Children's Welfare Act. With this Supreme Court they'll probably rule that the children are better off being assimilated into white Christian families.
Thank you Heather for this clearing of the woods.
I continue to hear people downgrade the substantial threat that Trump, Abbott and DeSantis are with suspicion.
They are a clear and present danger to our Democracy and the future of this Country.
The threat is very real.
Be safe. Be well.
Boom! Thank you Heather. This is a profound insight.
At the core of this path is religion, backed by political and cultural authority.
Catholicism never gained significant power in the North American colonies. The Protestant sects that did root themselves in the colonies, but they were too heterodox to really consolidate power. The Constitutional amendments, guaranteeing free exercise of religion, and barring the use of religious tests for federal office were an attempt to prevent that consolidation. From a political perspective, religion has always been a "voice crying in the wilderness."
We had witch trials in Salem in the 1600's. But we've never had a full-on Inquisition. We've never had a Tourquemada. This is a new threat, well-known to Europe, but entirely foreign to the US. So it makes sense that it would come as a bit of a surprise.
This is an "Oh, shit!" moment for me.
"But the rise of “illiberal democracy” or “soft fascism” is new to us, and the first step toward rolling it back is recognizing that it is different from Trump’s autocracy or states’ rights, and that its poison is spreading in the United States."
Home Run Writing today.
Heather, an excellent analysis making some sense of what’s driving today’s war on Democracy! To add to your historical outline…Tonight, on Rachel Madow, Timothy Snyder was her guest. He focused on the historic use of “the Big Lie.”
“Timothy Snyder, history professor at Yale University and author of "Bloodlands," talks with Rachel Maddow about the manipulative power of a "Big Lie" and why it's so difficult to untangle a person from a Big Lie once they've bought into it.”
It’s a strategy used before…a powerful web in which, horrifically, millions of Americans are caught.